Tributes from the world of motor racing were paid to Max Mosley, the former chairman of Formula 1’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), who died of cancer at the age of 81 years old. Alongside former F1 Managing Director Bernie Ecclestone, Mosley played a fundamental role in shaping F1 and modern motor racing as President of the FIA between 1993 and 2009.
He leaves a lasting legacy in his strident and successful push to safety in F1, racing and road cars.
Ecclestone expressed his sadness at the death of his friend. “It’s like losing a family, like losing a brother, Max and me,” he says. “He did a lot of good things not only for motorsport, but also for the [car] industry. He was very good at making sure people built safe cars.
Current FIA President Jean Todt, who succeeded Mosley, led the other tributes. “Deeply saddened by the passing of Max Mosley.” he wrote on Twitter. “He was a major figure in @ F1 and motorsport. As President @FIA for 16 years, he has made a major contribution to improving safety on the track and on the road. The entire FIA community pays tribute to him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
An F1 spokesperson said: “We are saddened to learn that former FIA President Max Mosley has passed away. A huge number in Formula 1’s transition. Our hearts go out to his family and friends at this sad time.
F1 teams have all added their tributes, including current world champions Mercedes. “From the driver to the team founder to the president of the FIA, Max Mosley has been a powerful modernizing force for global motorsport and a unique personality in our industry. On behalf of Mercedes, we express our condolences to his family and friends ”, they tweeted.
Mosley had a successful career as a lawyer before entering racing, most notably in F2, participating in the race in which Jim Clark was killed at Hockenheim in 1968.
He retired from driving in 1969 to co-found March Engineering, which made cars and competed as a constructor in F1. During his time with March, he became involved with the Formula 1 Manufacturers Association, which represented the teams’ business interests. He met and was immediately impressed with Ecclestone in 1971 when Ecclestone bought the Brabham team, starting a relationship that would span decades.
As legal advisor to FOCA, he helped draft the original Concorde agreement, the commercial contract with the teams, the latest version of which was renewed by the owners of F1, the FIA and the teams in 2020. In 1991, he became president of the governing body of FIA racing at the time, the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile and was elected president of the FIA in 1993.
Mosley has retained a very close bond with Ecclestone, with the pair acting in tandem to keep control over manufacturers and teams in driving F1. At the FIA Mosley leased the commercial rights to F1 from Ecclestone and during that time the sport gained a huge global audience, generating billions of pounds.
When he took office at the FIA, he immediately pushed the organization to make a difference in road safety. A year later, the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994, led him to impose sweeping changes that fundamentally improved the safety of F1 and motor racing.
He formed an advisory group, chaired by Professor Sid Watkins, to research and improve safety in motor racing. The changes they brought about were very successful. They included reducing engine power, redesigning the circuit to reduce the impact of collisions, the HANS (Head and Neck Safety) device – now used in motorsport, and drastic improvements to testing requirements. collision. He was also the first chairman of the F1 Safety Commission, which focused on the development of circuit safety. Since 1994, only one driver has died of an accident in an F1 race, Jules Bianchi who crashed at the Japanese GP in 2014.
Just as his private life was not without scandal, he was the subject of a tabloid talk about his sex life, so his time at the FIA was not without controversy. He was central to the decision of the 2005 United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis to proceed, as teams running on Michelin tires said without a track change that they would withdraw before the race because they were concerned about safety. They duly did so and the race continued with just six cars competing. He was also criticized for his handling of the spygate case involving McLaren and Ferrari in 2007.
Mosley was most proud of pushing for the adoption of the European New Car Assessment Program. A road vehicle safety program declared by the EU in 2000 as “the most important mechanism for making progress in the field of vehicle safety”.
Mosley was autocratic and controversial but fiercely intellectual and committed to his role. A documentary film about his life, titled Mosley, is slated for release in July.